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Acupuncture Effective in Reducing Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

Aug 31, 2013 08:43 AM EDT
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Acupuncture is as good as other physical therapies recommended for relief from osteoarthritis pain in the knee, researchers from University of York said.

The research team recently completed a systematic review of all research conducted on the subject and found that when it came to short-time relief from osteoarthritis pain, acupuncture was as effective as any other physical therapy such as pulsed electrical stimulation, balneotherapy (bathing) and aerobic exercise.

The review included 156 randomized trials on patients who had osteoarthritis of the knee. About 114 of these studies together included over 9,700 patients and covered 22 treatments.

The following eight therapies were associated with reduced pain in patients when compared with standard care: interferential therapy, acupuncture, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), pulsed electrical stimulation, balneotherapy (bathing), aerobic exercise, sham acupuncture, and muscle-strengthening exercise, according to the news release.

Acupuncture originated in China and spread to other Asian countries over 2,000 years ago.  The most common type of acupuncture in the U.S involves insertion of thin needles through skin.

"Most international guidance for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee doesn't include acupuncture, but it has probably got the best outcome across all the physical therapies," said Dr, Hugh MacPherson, of the Department of Health Sciences at York.

However, researchers found that many studies, about 75 percent of them, had mythological limitations.

 "The limitations of the methods used and the quality of the original studies mean that strong claims cannot be made for differences detected between these physical therapies, but the results suggest acupuncture may be at least as good as the others," Dr Nerys Woolacott, of the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, said in a news release.

The study is published in the journal Osteoarthritis Research Society International.

About 3 million Americans visit acupuncture clinics per year, says National Institute of Health. A recent study had found that acupuncture isn't sham and that it effectively reduces pain and nausea in people receiving chemotherapy for cancer.

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